You could generate many physical, mental, and emotional benefits of sobriety from alcohol or drugs, even if these are not always immediately apparent. The most recent data from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), addiction is a growing concern in the United States. In 2020, over 40 million adults reported an addiction to drink (alcohol use disorder) or drugs (substance use disorder). A further 6.5 million over-18s reported an addiction to illicit drugs and alcohol in the same year.
Worsening this issue, the same data show a wide treatment gap:
- 2.4 million adults engaged with drug addiction treatment in 2020.
- 2 million adults engaged with alcoholism treatment in 2020.
If you are contemplating committing to recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction, it will be helpful to learn as much as you can about the many benefits of sobriety. This may reinforce your desire to connect with the help you need to kickstart your recovery.
What are the Benefits of Sobriety?
Recovery is not a time-limited event like detox or rehab. Instead, sobriety is an ongoing journey and a continuous chain of events. The high relapse rates for addiction mean the journey may not always be straightforward, either.
While everyone has a different experience of addiction recovery, there are a few things that typically unfold during the first phase of sobriety.
During and after detox, you are liable to experience mood swings. Although this is normal and expected, it can also be challenging. If you find that mood swings or depression persist, consult your physician or treatment provider.
Alcohol and drug abuse is often associated with noticeable weight loss or weight gain, depending on the substance of abuse. This should normalize during the early phase of recovery.
If you have been using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate, you may find yourself experiencing intense emotions that you struggle to deal with. Practicing mindfulness can help you to focus fully on the present moment without allowing distressing emotions to overwhelm you.
The benefits of sobriety timeline occurs similarly in most people who discontinue substance use.
During the first three days of sobriety, you can expect any of the following symptoms to present:
- Appetite loss
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid heart rate
The acute symptoms associated with drug or alcohol withdrawal should subside in a week or so. It is from this point that you will start feeling the first benefits of sobriety.
As you enter week two of sobriety, you may get mild headaches and you might find that your sleep patterns are still disturbed. By this stage, you should be feeling stronger physically and mentally.
Many people report the manifestation of powerful cravings in week three of sobriety, meaning it is not surprising that 40% to 60% of people in recovery relapse. You may also find that outbursts of anger and mood swings are complicating your recovery during this challenging initial phase of sobriety. These feelings should soon pass.
Sobriety from Alcohol
If you commit to recovery from alcohol addiction, you can expect to notice the following health benefits of sobriety:
- The quality and quantity of your sleep should improve
- You should become a healthier weight
- Your overall nutrition should improve
- Immune system function should strengthen
- Skin condition should noticeably improve
- You should start noticing mental health benefits
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular complications
- You will decrease your risk of developing certain cancers
- Sobriety leads to sharper thinking and memory
The quality and quantity of your sleep should improve
Alcohol abuse is associated with poor sleep. Alcohol disrupts the sleep-wake cycle, making it more difficult to fall asleep and increasing the chance of waking during the night.
The longer you remain sober from alcohol, the greater the improvements in the quality and quantity of your sleep.
You should become a healthier weight
Alcohol interferes with your metabolism and saps vital nutrients from your body. You will also be consuming lots of empty calories and too much sugar.
Beyond this, you should start making healthy lifestyle changes in other areas like diet and exercise as you rebuild your life after addiction to alcohol. Regaining a healthy weight is a viable goal if you remain sober.
Your overall nutrition should improve
Chronic alcohol abuse can prevent your body from getting essential nutrients.
Additionally, many people with alcohol use disorder fail to eat properly due to the number of empty calories they are consuming. This leads to the body getting too few minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Alcohol abuse can also lead to malnutrition.
Over time, sobriety will help you to reverse these issues and to improve your physical health
Immune system function should strengthen
Research shows that alcohol compromises immune system functioning, leading to the underproduction of white blood cells, crucial for fending off bacteria and germs.
When you commit to sobriety, you will strengthen your immune system leading to fewer colds and illnesses like flu. You will also reduce your risk of developing pneumonia or tuberculosis.
Skin condition should noticeably improve
Alcohol abuse can trigger the following effects on the skin:
- Dry skin
- Broken capillaries on the nose and face
- Loose and saggy skin due to reduced collagen levels
When you become sober, your skin will gradually become more supple and elastic. Any yellowing or redness should start to fade, too.
You should start noticing mental health benefits
Alcoholism and mental illness are closely interrelated, although one does not necessarily cause the other.
Many people self-medicate the symptoms of mental health disorders with alcohol or drugs. Self-medication may provide fleeting relief from symptoms but will ultimately inflame both conditions.
If you stop drinking, you should notice an improvement in your mental health, especially if you have an SMI (serious mental illness). When you go to rehab, you will be able to engage with integrated dual diagnosis treatment to unpack both conditions simultaneously.
As you move forward in your sobriety, you should notice a decrease in depression and anxiety as you achieve your sober goals and become a healthier version of yourself.
Reduced risk of cardiovascular complications
Studies show that those who drink heavily are twice as likely to suffer from a cardiovascular event, so you will reduce your risk as soon as you become sober.
Research indicates that alcohol abuse can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease.
Any alcohol abuse is associated with a heightened risk of the following heart problems:
- Congestive heart failure
- Irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation)
- Heart attack
Research also connects alcohol consumption with a greater risk of stroke, particularly in the under-45s.
You will decrease your risk of developing certain cancers
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that your risk of developing the following cancers increases in line with the amount of alcohol you consume:
- Breast cancer
- Liver cancer
- Colon cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Laryngeal cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Throat cancer
- Oral cancer
You can immediately reduce your risk of developing those cancers when you become sober.
Sobriety leads to sharper thinking and memory
Heavy drinking can cause shrinkage of the hippocampus, an area of the brain vital for learning and memory.
Research suggests that staying sober for a year can promote the partial correctio of structural brain changes triggered by alcohol abuse.
Another benefit of sobriety from alcohol is that it may reverse some of the adverse cognitive outcomes associated with alcohol abuse, including:
Sobriety from Drugs
When you stop using drugs, whether prescription medications or illicit narcotics, you can reap many of the benefits outlined above.
- You will develop healthy coping techniques to more effectively manage stress in your recovery
- Your mental health will improve
- You can start rebuilding damaged relationships
- You will have more disposable income
You will develop healthy coping techniques to more effectively manage stress in your recovery
In counseling and psychotherapy sessions at rehab, you will explore the closely related nature of your thoughts and feelings. You will also learn how to prevent your behavior from being driven by automatic thoughts.
You will also discover what triggers you to use drink or drugs, and you will develop health coping mechanisms to minimize the likelihood of relapse in your recovery.
As you become more proficient at dealing with your emotions instead of using addictive substances to blot them out, you’ll find you can deal with stress more confidently and without resorting to substance use.
Your mental health will improve
If you have been self-medicating the symptoms of a mental health condition like depression or anxiety with drug abuse, or if you have been using narcotics as a coping mechanism, you will find that sobriety enables you to enjoy more stable mental health with alcohol removed from the equation.
You can start rebuilding damaged relationships
Once you show your loved ones that you are committing to ongoing sobriety, this can help to rebuild relationships damaged by the consequences of your substance abuse.
Additionally, you should have access to family therapy at inpatient or outpatient drug rehab. An experienced and unbiased intermediary can help you and your family members to improve your communication skills and to manage conflict more efficiently.
You will have more disposable income
Drug addiction is expensive and you should find yourself with much more disposable income now you are not buying drugs.
Try saving half of what you were spending on drugs and using the remainder to yield immediate benefits with some healthy treats.
Get Sober at California Detox
If you now more fully appreciate the manifold benefits of getting sober from alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs, we can help you achieve this at our drug rehab in California.
We deliver addiction treatment programs at all levels of intensity as follows:
- Inpatient programs (residential rehabs)
- Outpatient programs
- Intensive outpatient programs
- Partial hospitalization programs
- Remote rehab
- Dual diagnosis treatment programs
We also offer a supervised detoxification program at our licensed medical detox center in Huntington Beach. This will streamline withdrawal and help you to begin your recovery in the safest and most structured way.
After a week or so of detox, you will be ready to transition into an inpatient or outpatient program. Your treatment team will personalize a treatment plan drawing from these pharmacological and behavioral interventions:
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Individual counseling
- Group therapy
- Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
- Family therapy
- Holistic therapy
When you’re ready to reclaim your life from alcoholism or drug addiction, we are here to help you from detox to discharge and beyond. Call 949.390.5377 today and get help right away.